“In Paradise Village children beg on the streets because their parents can’t afford to look after them. And their mothers keep getting pregnant. I hear about a lot of unwanted pregnancies, but things are improving,” says Anna Miranda, a BlueStar midwife who lives and works in Tonsuya in the Philippines.
Paradise Village is a shanty town perched on reclaimed land in Manila, capital city of the Philippines. The optimistic spirit of the community is hard to miss but life is undeniably hard here, “this is a poor area – I have clients who really have nothing”.
Joining the BlueStar network
As a midwife, and resident of Paradise Village, Anna wanted to help women to plan for their families and to give birth in a safe environment. She joined the BlueStar network of family planning and safe delivery clinics a couple of years ago where she received specialist training in reproductive healthcare.
Anna’s home was then extended and upgraded into a two-storey building to make room for her BlueStar health clinic. Before she joined she described her home as “a cave”, a primitive structure prone to flooding.
If you see the clean and welcoming BlueStar clinic that now occupies the same space, it’s an image that’s difficult to reconcile. And as with her ongoing training, assessments and support, the improvements to the building and branding of the clinic were provided by BlueStar.
BlueStar is a social franchise designed to improve access to quality family planning through a network of private clinics. We launched it in the Philippines in 2008, and now support more than 200 midwives in the country. Prices for clients are affordable, and clinics have an informal sliding scale for cost to ensure no one is turned away.
Reaching more women with quality services
Access to contraception was limited before Anna’s clinic opened and pregnant women relied on traditional health workers, or ‘hilots’ to deliver their babies at home – a practice with devastating implications when complications arise.
Anna is proud of the valuable support she can offer, “since I’ve joined the BlueStar network, over 100 women come to my clinic each month. I’m able to help so many more women than before.”
There are still many barriers to women accessing family planning in the Philippines, but midwives like Anna are making a very real difference, providing quality services to their communities.